Community Scoop

Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 122

Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party

A regular bulletin started by the Labour Party’s Christchurch electorate MPs, Clayton Cosgrove (Waimakariri), Ruth Dyson (Port Hills), Lianne Dalziel (Christchurch East) and Brendon Burns (Christchurch Central) to keep people in their electorates and …Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 122

A regular bulletin started by the Labour Party’s Christchurch electorate MPs, Clayton Cosgrove (Waimakariri), Ruth Dyson (Port Hills), Lianne Dalziel (Christchurch East) and Brendon Burns (Christchurch Central) to keep people in their electorates and media informed about what is happening at grass roots level.

Labour will:

    * Purchase 1500 properties and sell them at cost to red zoned residents
    * Ring-fence $100 million as compensation for home improvements
    * Release all available geotechnical information
    * Resolve the insurance gridlock
    * Intervene in the insurance market as a last resort
    * Make community engagement a priority
    * Use youth unemployment to fill the skills gap
    * Establish an independent insurance commissioner.

For full policy details go to:

CLAYTON COSGROVE : A curious development today with the revelation that Gerry Brownlee is doing everything he can to ensure his department, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, avoids any independent scrutiny of its performance. Independent watchdog The Future Canterbury Network headed up by some very senior Cantabrians (one being the former MP for Ilam and senior National Party Minister, businessman Philip Burdon) has just concluded an evaluation of the Waimakariri District Council’s earthquake performance and is seeking to evaluate the performance of the Christchurch City Council and CERA. Currently Mr Brownlee is resisting any attempt of scrutiny using the same excuse he always uses when he doesn’t want to do something – that it will ‘hold up the recovery.’ He says that an independent assessment happens every three years and that’s called an election. The problem is, one year on the recovery has stalled. If Mr Brownlee is not prepared to have independent experts evaluate his department’s performance and to receive advice on how it can be improved then there is something wrong with his logic. He attacks the independent forum calling them ‘handwringers and talkers’ who are getting “in the road of the recovery”. I’ve never thought of Philip Burdon, an eminent businessperson, as a “hand-wringing talker”. Maybe Mr Brownlee should phone up the former National Minister and have a chat with him but more importantly listen to his point of view. This is the same Minister who won’t release individual geotechnical information to red zone homeowners on the flimsy pretext that releasing information might hold up the recovery It is also interesting to note an article today by Pete Whalan from real estate company Bayleys. He notes the frustration of many businesspeople that the recovery is stalling and says CBD businesspeople are getting frustrated by the lack of leadership. He notes that in order to move forward, a ‘designated person should be appointed to mandate tough decisions’. Well we have that person mandated by Parliament, who has been given wartime powers, a $5.5 billion budget, and his own department. That person is Mr Brownlee. He has the power to cut through all the chaff Mr Whalan talks about but continues to be reluctant to use any of his powers to do anything. For instance it’s now six weeks since his Government laid down the law giving Christchurch International Airport Ltd one month to sort out its objections to land development so affordable land can be urgently freed up for earthquake victims. Well what has happened? Absolutely nothing.

BRENDON BURNS: Education Minister Anne Tolley yesterday briefed Canterbury MPs on an education renewal recovery plan for our region. This is provided for under the CERA legislation. The Ministry of Education will run small focus groups across communities over the next six weeks to allow parents, educators, businesses, Ngai Tahu and others to have some say on what they’d like to see in the future provision of education in Canterbury. The Minister insists this is not about individual schools. We take her at her word. Inevitably some are likely to face considerable change as a result of population movement and quake damage. As Labour MPs, we will be encouraging and working with our communities to make use of the opportunities to inform the education plan, hoping it allows real input into shaping the future of education in Canterbury. A draft plan will be brought together before the final plan is released early next year.

LIANNE DALZIEL: When asked about the most important aspect of recovery after a disaster, the message I got from the Queensland Reconstruction Authority was “Communication, Communication, Communication”. The single biggest failure of the response here in Christchurch remains the lack of a coherent, coordinated communication strategy, with timely and accurate information that people can rely on. This is why I am continuing to hold cottage meetings to talk about the land zoning decisions. It’s not because I have all the answers, but people need to be able to voice their concerns and I am following up these concerns with the Minister and with CERA. I also find out what people are being told by others e.g. several constituents have said that they have been told that there are now three shades of green, so I have asked the Minister to confirm this. I know that there are people whose properties are red zoned who want to go green, green zoned who want to go red and orange zoned who want to go red or green. My position is that the right decision is the right decision – but people have a right to know everything about the decision. What geo-technical information guided the decision, what the cost analysis was, what the other risks are (e.g. flooding), where the insurers stand and whether all the assumptions were tested against the disruption this will cause the communities in question – especially when we are talking about dividing communities e.g. Dallington, Avondale and Burwood. I am still waiting for answers.

RUTH DYSON: The debate about saving or demolishing heritage buildings has flared strongly in our city. It’s a hard debate to have if you just ask people if they want to save a particular building, for example the Occidental That’s a hard debate because people focus on whether they liked that particular building or not (3 people – 3 opinions!!), whether it had been well maintained, whether it has a use in the future – which are all valid and interesting comments – but in order to look at what buildings should be saved with the amount of Heritage Fund money we have, it is my view that we need a comprehensive look at the entire region, not just the CBD. We need to know what is able to be saved, what is not able to be saved, the cost of repair/strengthening and then package the information around it about future potential uses, the owner’s preferences if they want to share them so that we can have an informed and strategic discussion about how to have the best retained if at all possible. Labour’s Christchurch Central MP Brendon Burns has been leading this debate in the CBD and it is time the rest of the city joined this group to have a bigger picture. This is the last sitting week of Parliament before the election. Gerry Brownlee was in Parliament today. He cancelled the cross party forum (again) at very short notice.
Authorised by Clayton Cosgrove, Parliament Buildings Wellington.

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